China Okays $58 Billion Railway System For Pakistan

China Okays $58 Billion Railway System For Pakistan
China has proposed its most expensive Belt and Road Initiative to date, with a $58 billion railway system that would connect Pakistan to western China in a move to further reduce Western trade dependence. The move seeks to jumpstart the mammoth China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, which has stalled due to internal political infighting and deep institutional inefficiencies in Pakistan.

The $57.7 billion plan was reviewed by analysts from the state-owned China Railway First Survey and Design Institute Group Co Ltd., which has determined that despite its hefty price tag the investment is worth it, according to a recent report in the South China Morning Post. The CPEC, which began in 2015, already has the ML-1 railway project in Pakistan, which aims to connect the northern part of the country to its southern areas proximate to the Arabian sea.

The 1,860 mile-long (2,994 kilometre) rail system will connect Pakistan’s port of Gwadar to the Chinese city of Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, and has the potential to reshape not only trade but geopolitics as well as geo-economics, as per the proposal’s review board.

"The government and financial institutions should provide strong support, increase coordination and collaboration among relevant domestic departments, strive for the injection of support funds and provide strong policy support and guarantees for the construction of this project," the Chinese team of analysts said in a report published earlier this month in the Chinese journal, Railway Transport and Economy.

Though the railway connecting China to Pakistan would be China’s biggest transport project yet, this is not the first major international rail system the Institute has been involved in, having helped with Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail line in Indonesia – Asia’s first high-speed rail system – which is slated to open in June.

The latest rail system to get the green light in China will connect the world’s top manufacturer with the Arabian Sea, opening it up to more direct trade routes. It is also expected to encourage additional train systems that could connect China to Turkey and Iran – significantly opening up direct access to the regions.

The trade routes are just one component of Beijing’s broader Belt and Road Initiative that looks to solidify China as a world superpower and encourage global domination in the trade sector.

The initiative is also looking to shift focus away from historical trade routes dominated by Western nations to better improve China's economic goals and encourage a "multipolar world" to diminish Western power – a move that top autocratic nations like Russia and Iran have also been eager to encourage as geopolitical tensions with the West continue to escalate.